Monday, June 01, 2009

Talking Point : Come on Sylvia, you can do better than that!

I like Sylvia and appreciate what she does - it takes time, dedication and some amount of courage to do what she is doing. Also, I'm just a blogger while she is in parliament and has her views heard nation wide on various policies. Overall, I think she has done well. The Worker's Party has taken a strategy that is different from, say, the SDP. As a weaker force, there are many ways to play the game. SDP has chosen direct strikes and taken the direct hammering that comes along - you can believe there are nothing but brave and determined souls in the SDP. The WP has taken a different strategy lying low, rising to make take shots when the case is clear and there is significant support for the alternative viewpoint e.g. standing up against the GST hikes, Minister's pay hikes, etc. The idea is they can win at elections when conditions are right and they need to avoid trouble until they get there. There are problems with both strategies. The SDP will find it very hard to recruit people until something goes very wrong with Singapore....the risk of joining them is just too high for most people. The WP's problem is if they play too soft, people will start to wonder what is the difference between them and some of the PAP backbenchers. I think while Sylvia clearly expressed some of the differences she had with with the ruling party on those system tweaks, she played it too soft....and I think she missed the big elephant in the scheme of things...

First, Sylvia should be an angry woman. She is the chairwoman of a political party which was denied a permit to host a cycling event a few months back[Link]. The PAP frequently uses such tactics to limit the activities of its political opponents. There is no level playing field and there is nothing in the recent tweaks that levels the playing field. The PAP govt links the estate upgrading to votes which is blatant pork barrel politics. Doesn't Sylvia feel disadvantaged when she cannot offer the $500M upgrading that the PAP candidates can? ...and what about those repressive laws like printing presses act, public order act, film act, broadcasting act, OSA, ISA etc that stifled the citizens freedom to gather and exchange ideas..and created a climate of fear. The lack of a freedom of information act? The lack of respect for human rights?

Come on, Sylvia, the system has been unfair and unjust to the Worker's Party and the ordinary citizens of Singapore. We want to vote you in to change the system not to support it and perpetuate it.

25 comments:

Chee Wai Lee said...

Well, I have mixed feelings about the new election "changes". I've articulated my thoughts in detail on Mr Siew Kum Hong's blog.

I can see why the WP isn't jumping for joy nor dismissing the proposal outright. They must realize it is a trap ... but I think they also realize there's nothing much they can do about it. I bet the temptation to take advantage of the backdoor is also strong, in spite what Ms Lim said about WP's policy of contesting for elected seats.

I just hate how many backdoors are being opened ... both for the PAP and the opposition. I don't think this is how a democracy should work.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky

Good to see you back to you best.
I was getting worried that we were losing you!

Sylvia is indeed a tough one with more restraint than the brave (and politically naive) CSJ.

Yes, lets bait her :-)

When she bites, we bash her and her party until whores would look down on them and even your rabble will shun them like H1N1 patients ... hahahaha

Your Proud Mentor

Anonymous said...

Yeah - I prefer her to play smart, act cool and not get jailed.

That will be to the detriment of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sylvia's approach is as per the proverb

"Cutting your clothes according to the cloth".

And the "cloth" is "Until the Workers' Party can contest 100% seats at elections........"

This is true in the investment world. So why not even in poltiics?

Anonymous said...

Yes, let us vote her in, this time truly as an opposition MP. Perhaps what she says or do now is inhibited by her position as just a 'NMP'. It does matter.

Lost Citizen

Saddam Hussein said...

I keep hearing phrases like, "This is not how democracy works".

I think the better thing is to ask instead, what sort of democracy, or even of government, is most suited for Singapore.

We have right now a de facto autocracy, and not a democracy. Its only dressed in its clothes. Slyvia is just one of accessory on these clothes.

We have some unique ingredients, that set us apart from anything in the world.

For one we are an accidental artificial nation - like many in Africa left behind by the colonialists, and even Iraq, a British creation. We have many social cracks held together amongst other things, fear and force, although mostly unseen; and I dont think "education" works: it is merely superficial. And I dont think time will fuse the cracks either, but even make more of it and even less likely to fuse, eg religion and foreign imports.

Then everyone knows our economic vulnerabilities, as reiterated again in these times, and our limited resources, etc

The PAP de facto argument have always been that we cannot survive the chaos and turmoil of a genuine democracy - they must have a "clear mandate" to rule, an euphemism really for continuing autocracy.

(Current mess in "liberated" Iraq compared to Saddam Hussein's stability can be an example to support this thesis.)

However PAP have realised that they do not have a monopoly of truth, insights, ideas, innovations, etc and thus the willingness to hear more voices. And that is all in the "concession".

Autocracy depends on the person. And persons in generally cannot be trusted, as a principle. That is the basic flaw in our governance, and that have to corrected, soon.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, what you described about WP being 'soft' and reticent even after being denied the permit to host a cycling event or estate upgrading funds or leveling of political playing field... just confirms the fact that the so called "WP baru" - 'baru' (as in the new WP after Low Thia Khiang ousted JBJ and left him to rot and die) - is nothing more than an approved, castrated and toothless opposition installed by PAP to give some illusion of 'opposition voice' in PAP's pariahment house.

Anonymous said...

The WP is a joke and politically naive. Remember the furore when one of its own members voted for the PAP and announced it to the whole world?

Nice move there. They lack the foresight and political knowledge to be a credible opposition party. I'm sure some of you are familiar with the Odex saga some time back. Before it became a rather huge issue in the media, I e-mailed the WP asking them to make use of the issue to build up political goodwill and capital among the young as most downloaders are adolescents and young adults. They never replied. The battle to topple PAP will be a long one and if the WP can't see the forest for the trees, they deserve to dwindle in mediocrity.

Onlooker said...

Sorry for being verbose but here it goes.

Actually looking at the changes to the NCMP rules, one would see that it is a means to let in more alternative Parties on PAPer terms and conditions.
ie they will have a voice but they can't vote against detrimental policies.
To truly speak up for the citizens,The elected MPs(hopefully from several different parties) must have an active vote in the policies that is being drafted in parliament.
The last thing we need is people thinking that NMPs and NCMPs have a vote in the policies that will shape our country Future.
Also NCMP = NMP (in term of duties) because they are potential MP who can have a vote in policy making if they run as political parties or private candidates and win the seat.

The GRC system have also made independent candidates less viable.

IMHO: This have in turn diluted the potential of the NMP/NCMPs who want to help shape the future of Singapore as they was given a voice(which will still be ignored if it run contrary to the wish of the ---) yet they cannot vote on policies that can shape our future.Esp if they have reason (via feedback)to believe that the policy will have a detrimental effect to the whole populace.

An example:-
The abuse of the FT system (aka Worker levy and cheap source of labour lah) is still evident in the eyes of Singaporean although NMPs, NCMPs and MPs like Mr Chiam and Mr Low /some PAPer MP have voiced concerns about it.
The problem is still ignored and our Quality is Still dropping :)
Won Olympic medal? So what only a few handful of people cared esp since the person who won the medal is only here for a while there is no incentive to stay after they are rewarded.And some were even snubbed after they contributed to the pursuit of the Olympic medal.
And the funny thing is ,if what Arroyo said was true ,we would have imported 5000 pinoy Workers for the IR who have a minimum wage protection (by the Philippine garment) that is denied to common Singaporeans.

Yes, Sylvia can do better but remember until the media is not pro certain parties and people are sure her word will not be taken out of context.It is better for her to be mild in her comment.(and people seem to forget the setup one indian PAPer and one chinese WP is an attempt to contrast both of the candidates and noticed Balaji refer to the PAPer MP (with more reference to her "Experience" and alternative parties are called Plan "B") and noticed when they commercial break they said how it will impacted PAPer MPs but not Singaporeans.And we All know some PAPer MPs are just backdoor rear entries who are not really tested by the election.

The first step then for alternative parties would be to get more alternative political parties into parliament as MPs who can both vote for and speak up for the common Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

I would say WP's long term strategy is to gain more seat Parliament so that they can really represent the alternate voice....now is like...even they are gungo and shoot down whatever ruling party policy...nothing will change...It was proven before...Instead focus on GE is better, so rule No.1 is avoid lawsuit as it was clear that with lawsuit you can't participate on the GE..(eg. CSJ).

Not to forgot we still have ISA and also when CSJ vs LKY that time, we also know how our high courts system works..

So, play it safe and steady...WP might stand a chance...anyway, their team also quite young...Time is their best friend...

Anonymous said...

Sylvia should ask who is accountable for the 5 billion loss in Temasek?

When CSJ asked where is our money, Mr Goh Chok Tong pointed to his own pocket. It is so true. Singaporeans' hard-earned money is in his and Lees' pockets.
I read a paper in the US this morning on the demise of GM. A corporation that runs into debt every year will be nothing in less than 100 years.
Come to think of it, Singapore has been losing money every year.....
Thanks to PAP, I have lost confidence in being a Singaporean. And it's not wise to invest spending life in Singapore unless you suck up to PAP.

Anonymous said...

PAP never believes in the proper and right way to do things,they believe in quick fix and short cut,and this fr an aged old guy who talked Asian values day and night.

Quick fix by depending on MNCs,to the extent that an EDB chairman quoted that to hell with local companies,short cut by intri=odcuing 2 million workers into the work force and then PM ,LHL shouted,OMG,really,oh really we have 2 millions har?a typical wayang.

I do not think fdoing things this way would lead to greatness,this I quote fr Asian values.

Anonymous said...

Pick the right battles.

This TV slot is not the platform to air major grievances. And very likely, she's been alerted that if she strays away from the point of discussion, they might not air the interview, for all you know.

She probably said what is "safe to air." Remember this is not CNN or Fox News or BBC.

Anonymous said...

and to add...

why make public WP's true intentions or thoughts for now? I'm sure they are already strategising how to make the most of PM's announcements if an election is called.

Fair or unfair - say whatever u want to say, this is certainly an OB marker WP does not want to cross.

Anonymous said...

To some extent I agree that WP was a tad too mild in opposing the latest changes. Everyone in their right mind can see thru these superficial nonsense designed to perpetuate PAP's stonghold on a people they are fast losing touch with.

However, I think WP is the best alternative Singapore has now. They are down-to-earth, gracious in their approach, and definitely connected with the heartlanders - in short, everything that the PAP should be but are not. We need to understand that they operate on dangerous soil with all the odds stacked against them.

So, let's give them our FULLEST support and help them win a few more seats (including 2 or 3 GRCs) in the upcoming GE.

That way, we will surely have a more balanced parliament in the next few years.

Forget this NCMP or NMP nonsense! What we want is real MPs who are worth their salt in public service.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia is the most eloquent and effective opposition leader since the longest time; she has the gift of the gab like no others too.

Anonymous said...

the problem doesnt lie in WP, as long as powers-may-be hold the power, WP will be known as whacking party.

Since they are too coward for any fair playing ground, cos powers-maynot-be know their ability to hold on the power, power still be.

Anonymous said...

"Sylvia is the most eloquent and effective opposition leader since the longest time; she has the gift of the gab like no others too."


Really? I find JBJ and Dr Chee way more eloquent and succint. In a nutshell, I have a lot more respect for Dr Chee and SDP than Sylvia and the WP.

Of course between the PAP and WP, I will vote for WP, the lesser evil.

Anonymous said...

8:28 PM

why are singaporeans so straight forward huh?

money-for-nothing said...

First, presenters P.N. Balji and Debra Soon came across as incapable of thinking quickly and presenting their questions sharply and succinctly. Watching Balji in particular, stuttering and stumbling in the latter half of the clip, was painful. They seemed ill-prepared for the job they were tasked with.

Second, Lucky is correct that Sylvia lost a golden opportunity to make her case forcefully and pin her PAP counterpart down. Or perhaps the interview would never have been aired if she had done so. Heaven knows there were a hundred slings and arrows she could have used, all the way from security to economic performance to citizen's rights. Instead she allowed the interview to proceed like a polite tea-party at the Raffles - yes sir, no sir, after you sir. Sylvia's responses were muted, too generalised and yes, bloody boring. There is such a thing as carrying the softly-softly, catchee-monkee technique too far.

Third, of the two interviewees, IMHO Indranee Rajah was much the slicker, well-prepared, and articulate. So eloquent in fact that the presenters and Sylvia failed to spot that she carefully avoided answering the Plan B question directly, instead beating about the bush and obfuscating to useful effect. Western TV hosts would have pounced on that in a flash and not permitted it to slide and go unanswered.

Finally, I'd score PAP=2, WP=1, unsurprising perhaps on a government-run channel like CNA. And since nobody said so, I'll allow that Indranee also has very nice legs indeed. Would I vote for her instead of Sylvia? Nope. The cover of the book didn't quite manage to hide its contents.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the previous commentators that JBJ and CSJ are far more eloquent and brilliant than Slyvia Lim.

JBJ and CSJ are also worth far more respect.

Anonymous said...

well, good for you then.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if its good for whoever. Only matters if she is sincere. Most of my mates don't see that in her.

Anonymous said...

To sum up, I see that many posters are still talking about or hoping for a so called opposition that is "credible".

My take is that at this point of the game where there is no field to play (forget about the field being not level), the only thing we should do, if we want any change at all, is to just vote in the numbers regardless if they appear now to be not credible or a donkey or an orang utan.

Once there are sufficient numbers, the credibility will follow, not the other way round it will not happen.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Ah Tan,

Sylvia has basically lost the plot. It seems that she is really the politically naive one and lack the basic understanding of the key of democracy.

Her party contradicts itself pretty badly. If the party CEC members object the NCMP, then why this very party has the most NCMPs in the past and present?

If the Chairman Sylvia Lim supports this expanded NCMP scheme, then why is she contesting election? Must well be a NMP instead!

For a relatively small party like WP not to have recounciled their difference of views in such an important political issue, how could we expect it to have more coherent policy views in future? Or take over as the government of Singapore?

The most interesting part is for Yaw Shin Leong to reiterate that NCMP as "backdoor" to parliament, is he implicitly saying that Sylvia Lim is a "backdoor MP" now? The most hilarious part is that he claims he will take order from WP CEC to become "backdoor MP" if necessary! How could a "promising" opposition politician talk so much rubbish?